Untamed Waikato - Raglan to Port Waikato

Journey through the west Waikato and discover glowworm caves, a hidden LOTR treasure, and sunsets over stunning black sand beaches.

After breakfast and a coffee stop in Raglan, follow State Highway 23 to the Ohautira Road turnoff and follow Highway 22. Try not to be distracted by the rolling farmlands and native bush as you head past Waingaro and continue north to take a right off Waimai Valley Road. Follow this road until you reach Matira, then head right for a short distance, followed by left onto Richardson Road. At the end of Richardson Road, turn left on Waikaretu Valley Road and take the winding roads to Nikau Cave and Cafe. Here you can take in an authentic caving experience with a magical glowworm view.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head back to the café and experience the best produce the Waikato has to offer. Soak in the scenery and then continue right out of Nikau Caves to your next destination. Following Waikaretu Valley Road west, it becomes Port Waikato-Waikaretu Road. Take care on this drive and be sure you don’t miss the turnoff to Limestone Downs – this is a must-do if you are a Lord of the Rings fan. Down Limestone Downs, you’ll find Weathertop Hollow, the perfect photo opportunity to become Aragorn where the scene was shot.

Once you have taken your picture, turn back toward Port Waikato-Waikaretu Road and continue left toward Port Waikato. This last stretch continues to be windy and the farmlands and forestry may steal your attention from time to time. Be sure to stop and rest where you can – they call this a wild Waikato west coast drive for a reason. The road will clear into farmlands and you’ll stumble upon the treasure that is Port Waikato. Turn left onto Maunsell Road and follow the road to Port Waikato Holiday Park for affordable accommodation. Head to Sylvia’s for a tasty dinner and be sure to steal away to the beach to squish your toes in the black sand one final time and experience an Instagram-worthy sunset while the waves roll in.

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